Domestic Violence: A Cultural Pandemic?
By James WF Roberts
By James WF Roberts
With all of the coverage of the attacks on Paris, the re-emergence of Reclaim Australia, and the Syrian refugee crisis that is getting worse on a daily basis, and the moral and legal quagmire of the world’s powers taking the fight to ISIS, one of the most important domestic and foreign issues that is finally being highlighted and given real Prime Ministerial attention is the issue of domestic violence. Without focusing on the political issue of what Pauline Hanson and many other pundits have said about how “Islam is oppressive to women…” the most shocking article I have ever read on domestic violence has been published today on the web and in most of Australia’s leading news outlet. According to this article on www.news.com.au,
“The dangerous attitudes young Aussie kids absorb about domestic violence’; ‘by the age of 10, young Australian boys are downplaying and excusing sexist and violent outbursts, and girls are already blaming themselves for this behaviour’. The research, which will shape a $30 million national domestic violence prevention campaign, reveals primary-school aged children think violence against females is acceptable in some circumstances.
It exposes a deeply concerning tendency among Australian kids and teens to blame female victims, and excuse, empathise with, and minimise the behaviour of male perpetrators”
The shameful article goes on to say, “as a part of the research, children were asked to respond to a number of scenarios depicting gender inequality and aggression, and their responses have stunned policy makers.
“It wasn’t that bad ... it’s not like he punched her … if there was an injury, then it would be bad”, one girl aged between 10 and 14 says.
“She said something he didn’t like … the girls were being mean,” says a 10-14 year old boy excusing an aggressive outburst.
Even the adult parents surveyed displayed worrying attitudes, with a father responding to a scenario where his son throws a bottle at a girl in a fit of rage with the offhand comment: “boys will be boys”.
I am sorry—what? WHAT? Boys will be fucking boys? Christ and we wonder why so many young women are the victims of sexual assault every day and why so many women are murdered by a current or ex-spouse, he throws a fucking bottle at a girl in a fit of rage? How the fuck is that not attempted murder, or at least attempted assault?
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the research paints “a disturbing picture” about the views many Australians have about domestic violence.
“It tells us that far too many people excuse, diminish and blame the victim when it comes to violence against women, now that is utterly unacceptable,” he said.
“These are attitudes we have to change, these are big cultural changes we need to effect.”
The research reveals boys as young as 10 are quick to blame aggressive and sexist behaviours on others, particularly females, where as young girls are quick to blame themselves.
Girls as young as 10 are also quick to downplay disrespectful and aggressive behaviour from males, even physical violence, while boys display a high level of empathy toward other males who exhibit disrespectful or aggressive behaviour.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter called the research “eye-opening”.
“The research seems to show that young people continue to hold views that implicitly accept violence,” Mr Porter said.
I am guessing that the majority of young people in the questionnaire where of White/European/Anglo-Saxon background. I am not making any argument about whether or not all white people thing this way etc. I am white and I certainly do not agree with this attitude, nor do I disagree with the findings of the study. I am under no illusions of how women are seen in our culture. We live in a phallocentric, adolescent male gaze orientated world; almost everything we do in our society perpetuate the horrific ideal of women being second class citizens, compared to a man. How many mainstream TV shows, Movies, books, stories, myths, focus on the strong macho man, the strong silent type, the Hero every boy can become…and what is there for a woman, for a little girl? A wife, a mother, a mawkish daughter or the prostitute/slut archetype?
Everyone is effected by domestic violence, in one way or another. Domestic violence doesn’t have to be a punch in the face, or show any scars, families, friends, children—everyone is effected by a relationship inside domestic violence.
I am angry at this report, it sickens me the double-standard we have in the community towards White—mainstream culture and what we consider the religious oppression writ-large that we have for so long accused Islam of practicing. It is always in the News and I know of a particular woman in my former hometown of Bendigo, a particular city-councillor who is highly involved in the Stop the Mosque campaign.
But, of the Islamic attitude towards women in religion and in the Koran?
A very insightful and interesting article I have often used in relation to the problem of Islam and female oppression can be found here: http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/3344/does-islam-oppress-women/
“Fourteen hundred years ago Islam gave women rights; rights that could not have been imagined by European counterparts. Bold words! Words that have been spoken repeatedly, especially in the last two or three decades by Muslim converts, and Islamic writers, academics and educators across the globe. Women’s rights, responsibilities, and choices have been the subject of books, articles, essays, and lectures. Sadly however, convincing the world that Muslim women are not oppressed by Islam is a message that is just not getting through. Media headlines scream oppression and the words Muslim, women, and oppression seem to have become inextricably linked”.
“The most visible sign of a Muslim woman’s faith is the headscarf or hijab; it is also the garment that leads people to believe that Islam oppresses women. Although Islamic scholars unanimously agree that modest dress and head coverings are obligatory in Islam, for the majority of Muslim women around the world, to cover, or not to cover, is a freely made choice. The women who chose to wear hijab view it as a right, not a burden and many describe wearing hijab as liberation from the need to conform to unrealistic stereotypes and images dictated by the media.
And the report goes on to discuss what Islamic women say about themselves in relation to the issue of oppression, “in 2005, a World Gallup Poll entitled, What women Want: Listening to the voices of Muslim Woman, revealed that the majority of women polled, in predominantly Muslim countries resented lack of unity among Muslim nations, violent extremism, and political and economic corruption. The headscarf or hijab, or any garment covering the face and body, often depicted as a tool of oppression was not even mentioned”
The report concluded that “...most women in the Muslim world are well aware that they have the same capabilities and deserve the same fundamental rights as men. Majorities of females in each of the eight countries surveyed said they believe women are able to make their own voting decisions, to work at any job for which they are qualified, and even to serve in the highest levels of government.”
“Islam raised the level of women, they were no longer chattels being passed from father to husband. They became equal to men, with rights and responsibilities that take into account the nature of humankind. Unfortunately across the globe, Muslim women are victims of cultural aberrations that have no place in Islam. Powerful individuals and groups claim to be Muslim yet fail to practice the true principles of Islam. Whenever the media reveals unconscionable stories about honour killings, genital mutilation, forced marriage, the punishment of rape victims, women being confined to their homes or women being denied education they are revealing a tale of men and women who are ignorant about the status of women in Islam.
“O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the bridal money you have given them. And live with them honourably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and God brings a great deal of good through it.” (Quran 4:19)
“The religion of Islam demands that women be treated with respect, honour, and justice. It condemns oppression of any kind. In Islam women, like men, are commanded to believe in God and to worship Him. Women are equal to men in terms of reward in the Hereafter”
“And whoever does righteous good deeds, male or female, and is a true believer in the Oneness of God, such will enter paradise; and not the least injustice, even to the size of a speck on the back of a date stone, will be done to them.” (Quran 4:124)
“Women in Islam have the right to own property, to control their own money to buy and sell, and to give gifts and charity. It is not permissible for anyone to take a woman’s wealth without her consent. Islam gave women formal rights of inheritance. Women in Islam have the right to an education; seeking and acquiring knowledge is an obligation on all Muslims, male or female”
Of course I am not going to copy and paste the entire article or the website into this post, I merely want people to be more educated and to seek things out and find out the truth behind the mass hysteria for themselves.
And—what about the other main Abrahamic traditions have to say on to say about women, in general? Should we look at Leviticus, perhaps? Even though it is one of the maligned and most used book in the bible, when it comes to homophobia and bigotry.
The Uncleanness of Women
19 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. 20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. 21 And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 22 And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 23 And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even. 24 And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.
25 And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean. 26 Every bed whereon she lieth all the days of her issue shall be unto her as the bed of her separation: and whatsoever she sitteth upon shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her separation. 27 And whosoever toucheth those things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
28 But if she be cleansed of her issue, then she shall number to herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. 29 And on the eighth day she shall take unto her two turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them unto the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 30 And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for her before the LORD for the issue of her uncleanness.”
Doesn’t make for good reading about the menstrual cycle does it? Is this not oppressive and condemning of women? If a period of woman, and the woman herself is unclean—of course this is all about original sin and their belief is that we are all dirty, and full of sin until we are cleansed, regardless of that though, how can any woman born into Judaism or Christianity think of herself as anything but unclean and inferior to man—which is of course the whole issue we have here. But, I shall go on,
“19When a woman has a discharge, if her discharge in her body is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening.
20'Everything also on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean, and everything on which she sits shall be unclean.…”
Of course there are dozens and dozens more quotes like this from our Judaeo-Christian tradition, and it makes me wonder about so many, many things, not just how we view Islam in comparison to our own traditions. I have been thinking about the Reclaim Australia/United Patriot Front morons and their own crusade to destroy Islam and Domestic Terrorism—I wonder if we calculated how many Australian women have died in acts due to acts of domestic violence over the last 12 months, how much higher would those death rates be compared to how many Australians have died in terrorist acts over the last five years? I am guessing that the Domestic violence stats, are so horrifically high that they would out-number the death caused by terrorist actions.
According to the White Ribbon organisation; “Over 12 months, on average, one woman is killed every week as a result of intimate partner violence. A woman is most likely to be killed by her male partner in her home. Domestic and family violence is the principle cause of homelessness for women and their children. Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health in Australian women aged 15-44. One in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them. One in four children are exposed to domestic violence, which is a recognised form of child abuse. The cost of violence against women to the Australian economy is estimated to rise to $15.6 billion per annum. One in five women experience harassment within the workplace. One in five women over 18 has been stalked during her lifetime”
These are horrendous figures.
But I digress. I have witnessed domestic violence towards women in public. I was once at a friend of mine’s gallery opening in Castlemaine a few years ago, there were so many other artists, musicians, rappers and poets, myself among them performing at the opening, it was pro-rata gig for a mate, the sort of thing we all do for cheap or free booze and exposure. We were all sitting or standing in the alleyway smoking (not everything entirely legal) and drinking too much and I heard this man, probably no more than 25 years old, if that and his, I guess girlfriend, or partner as we say these days was with their little dog and their young boy, probably around 8 years old maybe a bit younger, after what seemed a normal, casual conversation, the young woman saying, “what time are you going to be finished? What time should I put dinner on…”
“I am not going to be that fucking long. Just fucking wait you, stupid bitch, I told you that before…”
“I was just asking a question. Should I wait here then?”
“Yes. I fucking told you to wait here. Be here when I get back or I will kick you in the cunt”.
So many of us turned around and looked, not really horrified, more in shock that the conversation had become so aggressive, so violent with little or no provocation from the woman’s part. It is not the only time I have seen transgressions like that happen in public, I have been at Macdonald’s, actually at the Boronia Macdonald’s right above the train station once, really hungover and feeling the effects of some nefarious things I took at a party, that is probably not the most relevant bit but I do need to highlight that I am not a saint, nor am I trying to be sanctimonious in this article. I was puking my guts up in the men’s room and I heard a loud banging on the door. “I’ll be just a minute. Gimme a sec”. There was no response. Just more and more banging on the door. I finished up and went to investigate the ruckus. Standing outside, the disabled toilet was a man banging on the door.
“Hurry up bitch. We’re gonna be late. Still got another hour of driving”.
He continued banging on the door until I think she opened it, or he had forced it open. I was hiding behind the door of the men’s room, you know didn’t want to get involved but I still witnessed it. The woman was a young girl, obviously several months pregnant he went over to his partner and punched her as hard as man could punch someone in the face. I could feel the impact from where I was standing. I remember thinking shit what am I going to do? What should I do…should I run in and intervene, he looks high, he looks dangerous he might have a knife or something. I know, I will go get help from a staff member or there were plenty of men with their families in the dining area I will go and get help. I went to the dining area and I said to this guy who was clearly the manager, ‘hey mate I think something should be done about the guy in the toilets…” then there was the scream and the second hit I looked around at all the men, all the families—all of us silent to her screams….I did look for help, I did go to the Cop shop but there was no help to be found. It was closed. I did eventually get some, some assistance from an on duty officer, by the time we got back, the man and the woman were gone.
This is pandemic that we all have a responsibility to cure. Women have the responsibility to better educate themselves and their friends and relatives. And men have a responsibility to teach their sons, their brothers, their nephews--their mates that HITTING A WOMAN, OR ANYONE FOR THAT MATTER is Wrong. No means No. And we all have an unalienable right to respect and human decency.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au In an emergency call 000